Lupita’s stylist, Vernon Francois, debuts product for all-natural, curly hair
Celebrity hairstylist Vernon Francois is well-known for styling Lupita Nyong’o’s sky-high bun that she wore for the Met Ball. And he’s worked with Hollywood celebrities including Kerry Washington, Ruth Negga, Tracee Ellis Ross and Keyshia Cole.
Recently he launched a new hair care collection catering to all-natural, curly hair. This eponymous line of products is made with ingredients that are cruelty-free. In Africa, where the oils are sourced, VF actively supports women’s education and enhance the livelihood of farmers.
His products are made for women with a wide range of textured hair: Pure Fro, for dense, kinky, tightly coiled hair; Curl-Command, for wavy, loose curly hair; and Re-Vamp, for damaged, heat or chemically treated hair.
Products include a shampoo, conditioner, moisture spray, a lightweight serum, co-wash, silk scarves, and other styling tools.
Read what he has to say.
Why did you create the product?
I am a professional stylist, specializing in textured hair, with over 15 years’ experience, and created my collection in response to hearing my clients’ frustrations. It was very clear to me and my clients, that the range of choice available for all types of textured hair, in the high-end beauty space, had been too limited for too long. There was a definite gap in the market. Through my years of experience, industry knowledge and research, I knew that I was perfectly placed to address this.
I also recognized that helping people to embrace their true texture is about more than creating outstanding products. There is a massive educational role that needs to be fulfilled when it comes to helping people embrace their natural genetic gift. Being able to identify and understand your curl pattern; knowing the best drying, product application and styling techniques are also important. I created the icons on the front of every bottle, and the “learn” section of my website to help bridge this knowledge gap and make accessing the right information, by hair type, as easy as possible.
What sets it apart from what is currently on the market?
The difference is that this is a premium collection designed to meet the needs of all hair texture types: kinky, coily, curly, wavy, straight, damaged, also hair that’s worn in braids and locs. I have created a bespoke formula for every single product, which are blends of high-grade plant oils and natural actives. It’s been three years in the making and I have personally been involved at every step; bringing and applying my knowledge of what different texture types need and respond to best. Not only are each of the formulas unique and highly effective, but they are also incredibly easy to apply. My spray-on, rinse-out, conditioners are particularly exciting.
I have also created a universal visual language for hair, which is another point of difference with my collection. These are very simple icons that you’ll find on the front of every bottle and on the website. They that allow you to easily identify your hair type, then match with the best products and information from the collection for you.
Because each product is completely bespoke, there are also differences for each item within the collection. Dazzling Spritz, for instance, is a weightless finishing spray, filled with delicate light reflective particles, which not only gives a subtle sparkle but also moisturizes, nourishes and protects the hair from sun damage. One of the ingredients, Mongongo oil, contains a fatty acid that cleverly forms a protective film when exposed to UV. It also has Baobab seed oil which is strongly moisturizing and brings vitamins A, D and E. The finish is non-greasy though; and the fragrance is very fresh and crisp.
What is the most common effect or benefit your clients seek when working with you?
Clients come to me because they want to be able to confidently embrace their true texture – not just immediately after they leave the salon; but in the longer term, day-to-day, when they are back in ‘the real world’. Managing textured hair at home can be a challenge and a big issue for a lot of people. I’m talking about people of all ages and from all walks of life. I will share tools, knowledge and encouragement with my clients so that they can properly embrace their genetic gift.
Textured hair is so versatile but a lot of the time my clients want advice on getting more variety into their styles. They may want to explore braids, extensions, color, longer or shorter length and so on. I’ll give them tips on how to strengthen and nourish their hair, encouraging healthy hair growth, and will check in with them after their appointment to see how they are getting on with their style.
Some clients, when they first come to see me, may have spent time in the past trying to suppress their curl pattern. I will say, “Yes, you have big hair — let me show you how to get the best from it.” It can sometimes be quite an emotional experience, but also quite freeing and joyful; which is perhaps why a lot of my clients and I have bonded. Many have been coming to see me for over thirteen years and some will travel from overseas for just for an appointment. As a result, my clients feel confident and happy!
What are the key ingredients in the product that are most important to have for textured hair?
There are so many active ingredients in my collection that are important for textured hair. What’s really exciting, is that there are three different ranges, each for different texture types; each with its own shampoo, conditioner and moisture spray. There are finishing products too. Textured hair can tend to be quite dry and crave moisture, so hydrating ingredients are very important. Kinky and coily hair types can also be quite fragile, so ingredients that nourish, repair and strengthen are also key.
Ubuntu Marula oil, used in my co-wash, nourishes, hydrates, softens and revitalizes the hair. It also protects against harsh weather conditions. Baobab oil, in my curl command shampoo and moisture spray, deeply moisturizes curls and contains vitamins A, D and E. Kalahari melon oil, in my pure-fro shampoo and moisture spray has a high concentration of essential fatty acids with moisturizing, regenerating and restructuring properties. There is also a concentrated extract of sunflower seeds, used in re-vamp shampoo, curl-command moisture spray, and others, which reverses damage and protects the hair. Also, extract of black oats, used in several of my products, which smooths the surface of the hair making it appear glossier, is a key ingredient too.
Why do you love your job?
I have always been completely passionate about working with textured hair. Not just creating with it, but also supporting people on their hair journey as they embrace their true texture. Every day is inspiring, rewarding and exciting.
What is the definition of success for you in your industry?
For me, success is about being able to consistently evolve as a creative; and inspire (my clients and the wider world) as a stylist. It’s also about supporting, encouraging and educating people from all walks of life about how remarkable and versatile textured hair is.
When did you realize you had this gift?
As a young child, aged just eight years old, my mother challenged me with doing my own hair in braids one day. I taught myself not only how braid, but also how to lock and twist hair; which is where my passion and fascination first started.